D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 40 Recap

We reach level 9 and race to a nearby town to prevent an elemental attack.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

We finally came to the slower session that I thought we’d hit last week. Emerging from the crazy multi-dungeon elemental cult area, the party finally Long Rested after about a dozen encounters in a row, identified some powerful artifacts, and received some startling news.

“Princes of the Apocalypse” is paced to give players plenty to do outside of the hefty dungeon crawling that makes up the entirety of the main quest. Previously I’d even inserted a few side treks from outside sources.

I decided it was time to run the Race to Destruction event after the fall of the second prophet. The party has dealt with the Devastation Orbs and seen first-hand the destruction they can cause to a town. Being warned of an impending attack was all the motivation they needed to finally travel East of the Sumber Hills, to Beliard.

First we hit level 9. We’ve skipped some content and have the potential to skip much more depending on where they go, but with some extra side treks and bonus XP I’m rewarding, they’re keeping pace just fine.

Loot-wise, Miri now wields Windvane, a powerful +2 spear. She previously had used Drown but rejected it as I really played up its evilness. And also it tends to cover its user in barnacles. The party now knows these weapons are not only powerful, but also essential to the main plot – they must be used to seal the nodes and cut off the four elemental planes that threaten the world.

But they left Drown back in Red Larch. So despite the nightmare warning from a certain prophet with a head of snakes, they ran down to Red Larch to pick it up.

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This gave me a unique opportunity to have a bit of fun. One of the joys of D&D over say a video game is that I can personally respond and craft consequences for the players’ actions. Entirely new story threads can be created based on choices they make.

I had previously teased from rescued delegate Mara that the weapons call to others, desiring to be wielded and promising power and fulfillment. Somehow Sister Garaele, an NPC ally they’ve known since the Phandelver campaign, was corrupted, and stole off with Drown in the night after a big storm. The party found her missing and a giant swamp in the back of the Allfaiths Shrine, where they had buried the powerful artifact. Dun Dun Duuun!

Dismayed, the party used their Bead of Windwalk to quickly travel to Beliard. The party had acquired a powerful Neckalce of Prayer Beads in the Howling Caves with four 1/day spells, two of which are 6th level and annoyingly powerful.

But to be honest I haven’t really used random encounters in this campaign beyond the very beginning. It frankly slows things down, unless there’s a neat story hook to it. Having the PCs literally transform into clouds and fly from town to town doesn’t sound all that bad – though it does give them a huge advantage when starting a fight.

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I let them coordinate a Surprise Round from cloud form on the Earth Cultists prepping the orb-box in Beliard. The party was previously unable to prevent the orb from going off in Red Larch, and were still a bit hazy on how the mechanics worked. They were mostly confused that the box-container was engraved with the Elemental Air symbol, despite being Earth Cultists.

The Surprise Round gave them the advantage in separating the box from the cultists. While they quickly dispatched the priest and guards, Talus used Mage Hand to swipe the box away while Kalinaar picked it up and ran with it like a tomb bomb – which I loved.

d&dThe Burrowshark riding a Bulette caused a few more problems for the rest of the party, and Talus took some heavy damage. They were fully rested however, and able to destroy both the new foes.

In the distance, several miles outside town (yeah, we had him run for a few hours, heh) Kalinaar opened the box and saw the Earth orb inside. He removed it and smashed it, setting off violent Earthquakes all around. Then he hauled ass back to town. Not exactly the best way to deal with it but they were able to save the town – and that’s what matters!

I’ve a few more side treks planned while the party is out and about. Seems best to stack them up so we can take care of several things outside before going back into Tyar-Besil. I already gave them a quest in Yartar, far to the North, to deal with a Fire Orb being sold on the Black Market.

I like the concept of the orbs as powerful WMDs that the party has to deal with around the area. Princes kind of lacks a powerful central villain but at least the cults do terrorize others and generally make themselves a dangerous nuisance. And rescuing townsfolk does a feel a bit more heroic than murdering everything in a dungeon.

Recorded Friday night, uploaded Weekends. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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